What makes a teacher successful in an online classroom is no different than a face-to-face classroom

teacherI have been involved in a heated discussion on the Chief Learning Officer Magazine group on LinkedIn and mentioned this previously on this posting, Why do we need to know the hottest eLearning trends? Why not innovate learning with what we already have? I am excited that I did year from Ladan Nikravan Senior Editor at MediaTec Publishing that my original posting will be featured in their June issue.

I couldn’t agree more as others have described in the thread that learning can happen anywhere and often I think people think of eLearning (or any trend for that matter) as something different than learning face-to-face. I loved how Jocelyn Davis of Seven Learning reminded us that learning should be the same as it has been since civilization began! She mentions the following “core” of any instruction:

The core has not changed: robust, clear ideas (“content”) + good teachers, teaching well (“delivery”) + enthusiastic students who can talk with one another (“learner community”). It can happen anywhere from stone benches to a MOOC, and via anything from wax tablets to mobile phones. But it’s never the venue or technology that really matters. The method can be as trendy as we like; if the core is weak, so will the learning be.

What makes a teacher successful in an online classroom is no different than a face-to-face classroom. Content expertise, attentiveness to students, timely responses to student questions, and being organized are just a few of the important qualifications of a successful teacher regardless of the medium.

Technology will come and go and we will continue to migrate the content from one platform to another. Content is what the learners need and want, but it is in a trichotomy between both design and functionality. Platforms are obviously different and if we could figure out how to leverage it best, to get the students to interact with it (the content) more, each other, and with their instructor the learning starts to happen.

While I say all this, I do feel there is value added to learners learning via something they prefer and already integrated into their lives. Some of the threads have brought up social learning, i.e., connectivism. For example the rich learning that we are doing right here. This informal learning has been brought to us and it isn’t constrained to being within a classroom. The learning has come outside of the classroom and into our pockets and inboxes. Where we (perhaps unfortunately) spend most of our time. The April issue of Chief Learning Officer Magazine devoted many articles to this topic which I haven’t been able to dig into yet.

While I would like to have a sidebar to know if anyone has thought about harnessing this methodology for their training… but I know the answers and murky results. We are all personally interested in this topic here on LinkedIn and welcomed it into our personal lives.

If I was informally asked to learn about TPS Reports via my email and social networks by my employer, I would probably overlook it. If I was required… I would only do the minimum to achieve the level of standard that was needed. My interest in connecting with others to learn about TPS Reports isn’t truly there.

I do believe tapping into social learning is key combined with Jocelyn’s “core” and providing feedback.

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About DaveHallmon

With experience in web, graphic, and instructional design, Dave maintains a balance between what is efficient and effective in every message. He always focuses on the why and how rather than "just doing it" to get the job done. By day he works at a leading university designing online courses that support 9,000 students in 64 countries. He works directly with faculty to brainstorm, design, and develop their online instruction utilizing the Adobe suite. He also teaches for the university as an adjunct faculty member in the area of web design. By night he is a devoted husband, father, freelancer, and adventurer of the outdoors. His other interests include LifeHacker, Science Fiction and Hayao Miyazaki movies, Settlers of Catan, and coffee with friends. He currently lives in St. Louis and has an M.S. in Instructional Design and aspires to pursue a professional degree in content marketing and strategy. Visit the links below for more information about his interests and design work.
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8 Responses to What makes a teacher successful in an online classroom is no different than a face-to-face classroom

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  2. Angela says:

    I completely agree with you Dave! I work at the Schools of Isolated and Distance education in Western Australia SIDE (www.side.wa.edu.au) where we use a blended model integrating Saba Classroom synchronous web-conferencing with Moodle LMS. With all the amazing features available in both systems it is still the teacher that is the prime motivator. Without an excellent teacher driving the software the lessons will be a disaster! I train teachers to work online and this is always my key message at the start of any training. You can have all the technological “bells and whistles” but without a good teacher who can engage and motivate the learner the lesson will be ineffective. Yes kids love technology but they usually love certain technology that engages them: Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, games etc. Us on-line educators are competing with these so we cannot rely just on the technology to engage and motivate…we still need to do it!

    • DaveHallmon says:

      To be honest, I would prefer a more blended model like what you describe but I do feel there is such value in working at your own space in an asynchronous environment. Thanks for checking out my blog. I hope we can work together on something.

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